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Author Topic: ...Update on the Sierra Leone Mission
the patriot
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posted 13 November 2021 13:42     Profile for the patriot   Author's Homepage   Email the patriot     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Since we have a contingent as part of the mission over there right now, thought this would be most appropriate.
12 July 2021



The commander of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), Indian Army Maj Gen Vijay Kumar Jetley, has come under harsh criticism for not taking the initiative and limiting the military activities of the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Observers are especially concerned that with the withdrawal of UK forces now complete, except for a training team, the security situation could deteriorate.

Gen Jetley told Jane's Defence Weekly that with his multinational force planned to reach about 16,000 troops from 21 countries, he is capable of handling the situation.

"With such a large force under his command, he is in better condition to dictate the course of hostilities than anybody else. And that, basically, with the main body of British troops now gone, is what we would like to see," Brig David Richards, commander of the UK force deployed to Sierra Leone in May, told JDW before leaving Freetown.

Gen Jetley acknowledged that in recent months, UN forces had encountered aggression on the part of the RUF on numerous occasions. "While we would always try to negotiate our way, for instance, through a roadblock or a stoppage, we have had to resort to force on occasion. When this happened, we reacted aggressively. That would leave nobody in any doubt of our intentions," he said.

Some of the obstacles placed in the way of his forces in the interior, he disclosed, had been weak. "Others were strong, involving a lot of firepower," Gen Jetley said. He said that his instructions to his forces are clear. "If threatened, they have been told to employ very robust rules of engagement."

The general believes that "the UN in Sierra Leone had to move slowly and very methodically. There was no reason to rush anything. One sure step at a time is the only way and that dictates the way that I do things," he explained, stating that other priorities such as human rights and child protection were also important.

When UK forces, including an airborne battalion and Chinook helicopters, arrived in Freetown in early May, he said, "they helped very effectively to stiffen my defences. At that time I had a single battalion at Lungi Airport; now I have four battalions deployed there."

Elsewhere, the UN had other problems, he said. For instance, Gen Jetley said that he had cautioned the Zambian contingent about carrying out reconnaissance patrols shortly before some of their personnel were taken hostage. "But at that time we were all sort of feeling our way." The general acknowledged that his peacekeepers had been tricked. "But I can assure you that it won't happen again. We now know that we cannot negotiate with an adversary with a forked tongue. They have been very cunning," he added.

On the dozen or so armoured personnel carriers seized by the rebels, Gen Jetley regarded them as a minimal threat to future UN operations. "They are specialised vehicles and the RUF does not have the kind of experience needed to deploy them effectively. Also, they don't have access to the fuel needed." Aerial observations had indicated that many had been abandoned after they had run dry, he added.

On the use of force, the general is circumspect. This follows rumours in Freetown that both the Guinean and Jordanian commanders had said that their role in Sierra Leone was strictly of a peacekeeping nature and that they had not come to fight.

Gen Jetley said that his original concept was not to use any force and that it worked quite well initially. "We managed to deploy everywhere in the country except to Koidu [capital of the Kono diamond fields which are financing the RUF war effort]. Also, we managed to establish nine of the 11 disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration camps [for rebel forces]. I have effectively divided the country up into four operational sectors: two in the north and north-east, one in the south and last, Freetown on its own.

" And now that we have established our parameters, we will soon be able to do what we need to."

Gen Jetley acknowledged that the single government Mi-24 attack helicopter had several times come to the aid of his forces. The general said that if necessary he would employ the three Indian Mi-24s that recently joined UNAMSIL. "If we have to, we will. They are very effective force multipliers, but I don't want to bring any speculation into what the UN will or won't do. Our role here is first to bring order to a situation that until recently was chaotic."

Perhaps the biggest problem that he has faced, said Gen Jetley, is that the soldiers under his command come from so many different nations, most with different styles and standards of training. He cites the Indian contingent as an example. Two of the battalions, the 5/8th Gurkha Rifles and the 18th Grenadiers, had deployed from Kashmir.

"They are tough, aggressive and battle hardened. And while there is nothing wrong with the soldiers from other nations, they simply did not have the kind of combat experience that our boys have experienced," he declared. Because of this, he said, he needed to see for himself what the various components were capable of. "For that it is essential to follow the old tradition: a slow, steady plodding manner in which no time frames had been laid."

Last week, an Indian and two Jordanian companies reoccupied Masiaka which had been lost to RUF forces which seized the important town after government forces withdrew on 4 July. The UN action followed the 30 June RUF ambush of a UNAMSIL convoy in which one Jordanian peacekeeper was killed and two others wounded.

With more than 230 UN peacekeepers still held by the RUF as JDW went to press, it remains to be seen whether the UN action at Masiaka marks a shift away from Gen Jetley's cautious approach.

Al Venter JDW Special Correspondent


-the patriot-

Posts: 200 | From: The Great White North | Registered: Jun 2000
the patriot
Infantry Forum Moderator
Member # 144

Member Rated:

posted 14 November 2021 19:14     Profile for the patriot   Author's Homepage   Email the patriot     Send New Private Message     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Operation Reptile

(excerpt from D-NET)

CF part of UN tour in Sierra Leone

By Mitch Gillett

A 180-day UN tour in Sierra Leone, long-considered one of the world's most dangerous places, has given CF Captain Lloyd Jackson a new appreciation for the country.

"I learned that I am very proud to be a Canadian, and I have taken a lot of things in Canada for granted that I should not have. I am a firm believer that Canada is the best place in the world to live," said Capt Jackson, a reservist with the Princess Louise Fusiliers, who recently returned to Canada after completing a UN tour in Sierra Leone.

"I have seen many different places in West Africa and I am very fortunate to be a Canadian and I am proud to be a Canadian soldier. Our level of professionalism is second to none in the world."

On October 8, 1997, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions prohibiting the importation of weapons, military materiel and petroleum, as well as international travel by members of the military junta.

Under the terms of the Lome accord, signed July 7, 1999, the warring factions agreed to a cease-fire and the UN pledged to send a large peacekeeping force to oversee the disarmament and demobilization of about 45 000 fighters on both sides.

So far, much of the Lome accord has gone unfulfilled. UN troops are in Sierra Leone, but their numbers are far short of the 6000 authorized by the Security Council. This delay has slowed the disarmament process, which has only recovered a token number of weapons. It has also raised suspicion on both sides and led to an increase in violence and tension in the region.

The early months of 1999 saw some of the bloodiest fighting in the country's ongoing civil war. One particularly vicious practice was cutting off the ears, noses, hands, arms and legs of non-combatants who were not willing to co-operate with, or provide for, the insurgents. Rebel forces have also been known to detain, decapitate, burn alive, and inflict bullet and machete wounds on civilians.

The forces continue a longstanding practice of abducting villagers and using them as human shields during skirmishes. Boys have been forced to become soldiers and the rebel forces use rape as a terror tactic against women.

Sierra Leone-Lion Mountain-has been locked in a deadly civil war since March 1991 as different factions of the country fight for supremacy. At stake is the country's lucrative diamond mining industry.

The internal conflict involved different ethnic groups and has resulted in about 15 000 deaths from 1991 to 1996. By 1999 the number of dead in the rebel war was estimated at 50 000.

Sierra Leone's population is made up of 18 ethnic groups; however, ethnic differences do not appear to contribute to the Revolutionary United Front's 1997 rebellion or the subsequent conflict between the RUF and government forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces.

-the patriot-

Posts: 200 | From: The Great White North | Registered: Jun 2000

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